Who does Google trust? Who do they love to get data from about your local hospitality business? With the new, expanded, 10-listing One Box now showing at the top of Universal search for so many local searches, and with number of reviews being given a prominent place in this new One Box, hotel and restaurant owners need to get those reviews pouring in if they want to win a spot in the A-J Top 10. It could mean the difference between a full house and ghostly silence in your place of business.

Today, I sat down and looked at approximately 1000 reviews listed in Google Maps for hospitality industry businesses. The following is the list of sources I found Google currently pulling this data from, in addition to their own Google Reviews source. If you're trying to finesse reviews from your hotel or restaurant's patrons, the majority of the following 34 sources accept public reviews:


A Couple Of Things To Take Note Of

Tripadvisor.com is powerful. The number of reviews coming from this source is substantial. So long as Google and Tripadvisor maintain amicable relations, this is going to be a great place to send your customers. Chances are, they may already have heard of Tripadvisor.

As Yelp, Insiderpages and Citysearch have just made a miraculous reappearance in Maps results, you can expect to see tons of reviews coming from these extremely popular sources.

For hotels, motels, inns and B&Bs catering to an international audience, pay special attention to the many national extensions of Holidaycheck.com. If Spanish, Dutch or Polish is the native tongue of your valued guests, they may feel much more comfortable leaving a review if they can do it in their own idiom on one of these Holidaycheck sites. There are likely further extensions in addition to the ones I came across in my 1000 reviews.

The Climate Keeps Changing In Google Review Land

Since November, local-oriented SEOs had been trying to understand why Yelp, Insiderpages and Citysearch had suddenly dropped out of sight in Google Maps, adversely affecting the standings of countless local businesses. Just last week, this data reappeared, apparently due to a bug. The lesson here is that reviews from outside sources that count big for you today may be gone tomorrow, affecting your Google Local rankings.

Naturally, this would lead a hospitality business owner to believe that the safest bet will be to send patrons directly to Google's own review feature. You can pretty much count on the fact that Google will always trust Google. But, it's important for me to add here that, whether owing to a bug in the Maps system or because Google is trying not to annoy its partners, Google is not counting its own reviews in the top level interface of the new 10-listing One Box, nor the upper layers of Maps. One has to click in deeper to the expanded popup of information within Maps to see the reviews coming directly from Google being included. What this means, right now, is that if you have 10 reviews from Google Reviews, and your competitor has 10 reviews coming from Tripadvisor, only your competitor's reviews will show as a number in the new expanded One Box, potentially swaying clickthrough rates. Whether it affects your A-J ranking, I have yet to determine.

My advice would be not to put all of your white, ovoid objects into one wicker receptacle (sorry, I just thought you might be getting a headache over the eggs-in-one-basket advice). If your business is considering printing magnets, thank you cards or some other type of promotional materials in order to encourage user reviews, it might be wise to include a small selection of potential review sites so that your reviews are coming from an array of sources. That way, no change in Google's partnerships will have the power to kill your local rankings.

Still Feeling Fear Of UGC?

User Generated Content has the potential of being a bane or blessing for the hotel or restaurant owner. Nothing brings a warm glow to the business owner's heart like a rave review. Conversely, nothing makes the blood pressure skyrocket like a rant about your business' failings. Business owners can easily feel paralyzed by the fear that a not-so-nice patron may unfairly blast them in a review. Both things are going to happen to you, no matter how well you run your business. This is why it's important for you to remember that the same thing was happening before the Internet even existed. Your community's word-of-mouth press meant success or failure for your business. A rude waiter at a single dinner didn't spell doom, but a couple of food poisoning cases certainly might have. The conversation about your business is now taking place on-line instead of in your guests' living rooms, and the end result is one of both greater publicity and greater accountability for the way you serve the public.

This is a good thing.

If you put your heart into caring for your guests, if you consistently offer clean, comfortable lodgings and well-prepared meals, get ready to start hearing your praises sung in Google Maps. If you don't care much about your company and are putting your customers' needs at the bottom of your list, your business does not deserve to last. The ultimate outcome of the advent of user reviews will be better service for paying clients. The time to start catering with abundant energy to your patrons' needs is now.

January 29, 2008

Miriam Ellis is the co-owner of Solas Web Design and CopyLocal, providing SEO-based website design, Local SEO and professional copywriting for small-to-medium North American businesses. She is the Local SEO Associate in the Q&A Forum at SEOmoz, a moderator at Cre8asite Forums and an annual participant in David Mihm's Local Search Ranking Factors report. When she and her husband are not working on the web, they're farming organically and working on increased sustainability or roaming about in nature having the time of their lives.


Great article and thank you for your time in putting together that list. I am passing it on to my former B&B marketing association! Very valuable stuff.
Thank you


What an outstanding article and I hope folks realize the amazing potential of what you just wrote. From a local link building perspective you just gave certain local business owners a blueprint for the best possible chance at inclusion above the organics. If used discreetly and wisely, this is absolutely golden. Thank you for it.

Eric aka LinkMoses

I was looking to find out who was listed in the reviews posting at Google and came across your site. Great post!

I need to let them know that Viewpoints.com is a great resource for consumer reviews too. Thought your users may want to know as well! :)

Thanks for a great post.

Congratulations, Miriam. I think that will be one of the outstanding articles of 2008. It's packed with powerful and practical advice for all those hospitality industry members.

Thank you all, so much, for the kind praise. I have been so thrilled to know this article will be of real use to people who either running local businesses or doing SEO for them. Wonderful!

It's a great pleasure to write for such an appreciative audience!


This is excellent research, you have helped out hundreds of SEO's by doing the dirty work for us.

Does anyone know if Google and TripAdvisor are still cooperating? I noticed that none of the TripAdvisor reviews that Google previously showed for me and my competitors are there. Only the bedandbreakfast.com reviews are displaying. Will the TripAdvisor reviews be back? What gives?



Great info. I use Nozio for searching hotel reviews, they are not a booking intermediary site so the reviews are impartial.

If you want to make your career in Hospitality Industry, you have made a good choice. Hospitality is a global industry and there are millions of Hotel, bars, restaurants, resorts, cafes, cruise ships, pubs, fast food outlets and coffee shops offering millions of jobs and making the hospitality industry one the biggest employers on the earth.


The best part of online meal booking facility is that a restaurant meal can be booked as per the convenience of the guest without visiting the actual restaurant location. Before booking the meal you get a chance to see the clear pictures of the restaurant menu and the meal which you want to book. The detailed information about restaurant, other services and reviews help the new booker to get an idea about the restaurant for meal booking.

Tripadvisor is really a great source to unbiased hotel reviews, and hotel guide to stay. There are many other travel communities and hotel review sites are on the web providing but like holidayiq or oktatabyebye having low value compare than Tripadvisor.

Good info about google local maps sources for hospitality industry.

Thanks for this post, Miriam. I am looking for general review sites, not necessarily niche/industry specific. I have a software that I use on my website that allows my visitors to create video/audio/written reviews. I want to be able to submit those reviews once they have been submitted to me. My sites cover different topics, not all related, so I'd like to know how I would submit those reviews. That is why I wondered if there were generic review sites that covered all niches. I am not sure how the whole submit to Google thing works, but I suspect from your post that I would want to submit to sites that Google utilizes for it's reviews. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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